Ok I have written a little bit here and there about my adventures over the last few days while at the conference but I have not written fully about how it has impacted my life. I have been trying to digest everything and I still am. You know that God is at work when you need to take days to digest everything you have heard, learned, and have been impacted by. I feel as if I am still eating every time I look at my notes, read a blog that either Deanna or Tara has written about the events.
So on Thursday when I arrived at the hotel the women who greeted me were fantastic! One of them and unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember her name actually helped me to my room. It isn't easy trying to carry a big bag, a suitcase and then this wonderful goodie bag (which I will share about in a minute) and try to walk using a cane. She was so sweet, I felt like an honored guest with her helping me. We get to my room and it was beautiful! I wish I had brought my camera...so any pictures I post on here will be from either Tara's or Deanna's blog. Anyway, we all were given this wonderful little bag of goodies. Inside there was yummy chocolate, a book "Musings of a Maraschino Cherry: Reflections on the Role of a Minister's Wife" by Peggy Musgrove, and other little things such as a candle and book mark. But the best gift was a framed note, it said "Melissa, Don't Worry! I have it under control! Love God" When I pulled that out of the bag I immediately had tears in my eyes! It was exactly what I needed to read! How many times do you get a personal note like that, that hits home in a way you don't expect?! I mean I read the Bible and I am always ministered to but that framed note was just EXACTLY what I needed to read. I now have it on my dresser so it's the first thing I see in the morning before I get ready for the day! It reminds me that God does have things under control and I can trust Him for the day! (Thank you PD or whoever came up with that idea!)
So Thursday night I walk into the the main room where we were going to have the conference and dinner. I was looking around talking to a few people when out of the corner of my eye I spot the one person I HAD to go see. Pastor Deanna was surrounded by women. I honestly didn't want to interrupt her, specially when I noticed that Tara was standing there as well. I knew how close they were just from my readings.
But here she was and when she saw me she actually squealed! Which surprised me honestly and she gave me this hug...a hug that welcomed me, like we had known each other forever! Honestly I have never had a hug like that from anyone I was meeting for the first time! PD - just thinking about it makes tears well up. Honestly, I have admired Deanna for her strength and courage despite all that she personally has been going through! She is one tough cookie even if her center may be soft (smile). That hug was so filled with love it was overwhelming to be honest. She immediately had me sit with her for dinner. What an honor! Here I am, a little ole nobody sitting at the table with three powerful speakers - Tara Sloan, Sandy Phanazee and Deanna. What an honor. Women I have admired from afar. Women I want to be like when I grow up! I have heard Sandy speak at other events and have always been ministered to. I have been ministered to through Tara and Deanna's blog for almost a year now. I felt like I was sitting with royalty, honestly I did. It was great!
We had a wonderful meal before Pastor Deanna spoke on "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I have to say when she began sharing I thought to myself, "she is reading my mail or maybe my blog!" This year has been "A Series of Unfortunate Events" for me. Every time I think I am getting ahead something else smacks me down. It was based on Ezekiel. What God spoke to me is that it really has nothing to do what is happening to me or around me, what is important is what is happening in me, how are the wrecks changing me...for the better? or for the worse? God allows things to happen for a reason, and even if I don't get it as long as I am trusting Him through it that is what is important. Sometimes you just have to do it "Anyway" like the song by Tina McBride.
There was great ministry that night. Then even better fellowship after service. I went back to my room with Carrie and we stayed up talking. It was late and the phone rings. Scared me and Carrie or at least it did me. I sorta jumped, I definitely wasn't expecting it to ring. On the end of the line was Deanna. Which really shocked me to be honest ... she was letting us know we had another roomie coming up...Sheryl. What a blessing to have them both with me to share the events with!
I have to say rooming with these two women was great! I originally was going to be staying with Michele. With everything she was going through last week, it was so much better for her and I that Deanna worked it out for me to stay at the hotel...THANK YOU PD! You know, God always has a plan and I know had I not been at the hotel I would not have connected with Carrie, Jessica, Sheryl, Jessica S., Tara or Deanna.
I have to say Jenn Lee took worship to a higher level every time she and the group lead us. It was fantastic to be able to worship without worrying about where or what my kids were doing. A luxury I do not get. I was able to let go and worship and it was fantastic!
Friday was packed with some fantastic workshops. Then that night Tara spoke about "the Breaking Point" and like I said in a previous post she hit the nail on the head! God reached in deep and touched me in a great way. I felt a release to just be real. I even gave a testimony that night.
So here is what I shared and this is how I feel even today. Pastoring Partners a ministry started by Deanna Shrodes has been a life line to me. When Sean and I moved here we had never been in a Senior Pastorate. We had been on staff at Venice Assembly Of God under Pastor Gary and Rhonda Gray. Two wonderful people and we learned so much. We will always cherish that time and our friendship with them. But when we came here I felt alone. I felt like NO one else had or was going through what I was going through. Then Michele through me this life line and I felt like I finally had a place to go to find support, understanding and love without feeling condemned. The women on there get it. They too struggle and are real people dealing with real issues. Then I learned about Unstoppable. Everything came against me going. Even up to the week before I was to leave. And yet I was determined that nothing was going to stop me from going, I became "unstoppable". I am so glad that I went.
The vision that Deanna has for this ministry is even larger than what she may have dreamed. I am sure of it! This conference is so different from anything I have ever gone to. This conference and this ministry is so needed for Pastor's wives and Women in ministry. We women have a tendency to isolate ourselves and this ministry gives us a chance to be real again. I have always been a person who is real. I don't sugar coat anything. But I haven't felt free to share what I have been going through, not even on here. This weekend gave me back my love, excitement and desire for ministry. It gave me what has been missing for a quite sometime. I have been going through the motions of ministry. It happens more than people realize! But I returned home with the desire to do what God has called me to do. I know Sean is thankful for what took place in my life.
What is funny and I honestly can't remember if it was Deanna, Tara, Jenn Lee or Sandy that said it but one of them stated, be aware that you will hit a wall when you get home, that satan will use your husband or your kids to steal what God has done in you. I am so glad that was said because I went home aware and on guard for it. And you know what...that is exactly what happened. But I was prepared for it so I saw it for what it was and laughed to myself about the situation.
Friday night sitting and eating dinner, sharing and laughing together was so what I needed. Like I said I have never laughed so hard about some of the funniest ministry stories I have heard! Laughter is great medicine! But even so is good fellowship with people that get it, that understand the struggles we women go through in the ministry, just the time to eat together, laugh and cry together...is huge! It really was a highlight of the conference! I mean other than the messages. I had so much fun! Spending time with Carrie and Jessica afterwards was even better! We went back to Jessica's room and laughed so hard my sides hurt. We got this crazy call, the front desk saying they had complaints and that we needed to quiet down. Then a knock at the door. From our side of the door it was hilarious, here was Jessica peeking through the peek hole that was covered up and Carrie standing behind her with the iron in her hand ready to smash it against who ever was on the other side of the door. I couldn't help but laugh, it was so funny to watch! Then when they do open the door there stood Sheryl and Jessica (the other one) and they were laughing at us...they played a terrible trick on us. Jessica S and I have decided that next year we are going pay them back, some how...
I have no idea what Deanna may be thinking about for next year but what ever it might be...I am going to be there! Whatever it takes I am going to be there! I am sure I will share more but for now I hope you have gotten a sense of what took place and how it ministered to me!